The Air Accident Investigation & Prevention Unit (AAIPU) of the Bahamas published a preliminary report on the fatal Learjet accident near Freeport, Bahamas on November 9, suggesting the crew descended in instrument conditions until the jet impacted a crane and crashed.
The Learjet 35A, registered to Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd and operating as a charter flight for the Bahamas Faith Ministries International clipped a crane and impacted shipyard terrain while on approach to runway 6 the Grand Bahamas International Airport in Freeport. The aircraft was destroyed and all nine occupants onboard were fatally injured. The airplane had departed Nassau-Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) on an IFR flight plan for a 24-minute flight to Freeport.
The crew made contact with Freeport ATC as required and was given the current weather conditions and cleared for the instrument ILS Z 06 Approach. The aircraft was unable to land on first attempt, due to heavy rain showers and reduced visibility. The crew executed a missed approach procedure and continued outbound and entered the published holding pattern at 2,000 feet. Some time after entering the holding pattern, ATC reported the weather as improving and thus a second ILS Z 06 approach was requested by the crew and granted by ATC. During the return for the second instrument approach, ATC reported the weather as again deteriorating due to rain and haze. While attempting to find the runway visually during the second approach, the aircraft descended and subsequently struck a towering crane at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. The impact occurred with two support beams above the crane operator’s cab approximately 115 feet mean sea level.
After losing the outboard portion of the right wing and fuel tank, as a result of the impact, the aircraft continued its downward, uncontrolled descent, crashing inverted into a mound of garbage at the City Services Limited, a garbage and metal recycling plant which is located adjacent to the Grand Bahama Shipyard. The aircraft finally came to a stop after impact with a metal generator-housing unit located at the recycling plant.
The Locator Outer Marker (LOM) for the ILS Z approach is located at 4 DME and immediately after the LOM, approach charts show the presence of two cranes with a height of 368 and 369 feet (112 m). Minimum Descent Altitde (MDA) for the approach is 256 feet.